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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How sexy is your marketing campaign?

That I have to even ask the question suggests something is terribly wrong in bookdom.

Yesterday Edward Nawotka at PublishingPerspectives asked, "Will an author ever release a sex tape?" If that author is Chelsea Handler, maybe. Jane Austen, no. Edward's question got me thinking.

Why is it that authors are expected to be so professorial in demeanor while reality tv "stars" can act badly and get book deals? 

Let me define "sexy marketing." I don't expect that writers who labor at the computer for hours a day will be releasing sex tapes – although I could be wrong. 

That doesn't mean we should be all status quo and boring about how we market our brand and our books. People appreciate an entertaining marketing campaign. Read here about my current favorite case study on wild author marketing and branding, Jay-Z.

It is assumed by rappers, actors, and reality tv stars that they're too sexy for their marketing, no matter how over-the-top outrageous it is. It is assumed by authors that they will read from their books and then sign. Yawn.

The author book signing is an established status quo-type marketing event, but I recall a book signing where the novelist wore the biggest church hat I've ever seen in my life. That was kind of sexy. That hat made her interesting to look at while we waited in line. That hat made me feel like I was in the presence of a celebrity, and at the time, that was unusual for the typical book signing event.

I've done my share of boring status quo author events, but once I did step out of the box for my first book, Sister Feelgood. Since my book was about health and fitness, I decided to do an exercise demonstration to one of my favorite old school tunes, "In My House" by The Mary Jane Girls.

I laid on my back and moved my hips up and down to the beat.

Did I mention this was a church picnic?

I've since wondered, what was I thinking? As inappropriate as that stunt was for the setting, and as much as I probably embarrassed my mother the English teacher, now that I think about it, that was pretty sexy.

Fun is an important component of sexy marketing. Fun communicates that you're not so literary that you can't let your hair down. 

I haven't done a study yet, but I suspect that entrepreneurial writers for whom writing is more a means to an end vs. the whole show are more gregarious and thus more inclined to jump out of the box. I'm thinking about best selling author Anthony Robbins and a seminar I attended years ago. There was loud music. He didn't stand at a podium; he constantly paced the stage. He spoke into a rock star head mic. We walked across hot coals. Now that's sexy. 

Why do honor roll students get boring school assemblies while basketball and football teams get loud and exciting pep rallies? 

I'm not suggesting that authors start taping their intimate moments for the world to see, but how comfortable would you be with letting your readers see sides of you that only your closest friends and family members get to see? 

Donna Marie

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